With the announcement of a federal election expected at any time, Hanabeth Luke has put her hand up for the Division of Page, a seat currently held by Kevin Hogan of the Nationals.
Many would know Hanabeth Luke from a newspaper photo of her helping a man out of the burning Sari Club after the Bali bombing in 2002, many others know her as Dr Luke, an educator who has been teaching and conducting research in Southern Cross University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering since 2011 where she is the coordinator for SCU’s course in Regenerative Agriculture.
Many others would know her simply as Hanabeth from her own student days at Byron High. She is now also a wife and a mother of two and lives in Evans Head from where she commutes to SCU up to five days a week.
Hopes for her a new role as an MP
Dr Luke hopes that after the election she will be known for her new role as an MP as she is driven to see a change in politics. ‘I think so many people are disengaged with politics, it doesn’t feel like it has anything to do with them – they feel like there’s a bunch of people they don’t connect with, up there making decisions about them and it’s got nothing to do with them.’
Though not running for any party, Dr Luke has been endorsed by voices4page, a community movement that wants an alternative independent candidate for Page who is free of party politics.
Dr Luke feels that people don’t feel engaged with politics and don’t get involved and that’s means nothing will ever change. ‘Politics is never going to be any more inspiring than it is right now. There are many examples from around the world where politics is so much better than what we’re seeing right now in our country. So, if people enrol to vote, they can make a huge difference. If they vote for independents, like me, they can get people standing up there in Canberra, who are going to talk for them, and for this region and not what some party decides somewhere in some city.
Page is going backwards
Dr Luke says Page is going backwards. ‘When it comes to the poorest people in this electorate, it’s getting worse under this current government and current leadership. It’s not getting any easier for them and it’s even not getting any easier for me and I’m working at the university!
Dr Luke says we’re in a housing crisis and people have nowhere to go. ‘People on Centrelink have been on waiting lists for 17 years. A housing specialist told me that they’ll basically just stay on these lists because there’s a priority list and you don’t get on the priority list unless you’re basically living rough or being beaten up at home. This is an epidemic that we need to address and it’s not going to get any better under the current government.
Affordable housing and homes built
‘We need affordable housing. We need homes built. We don’t need any more Air BnB beds. We need homes for families. There’s so much research that’s been done that shows that when people have a house over there a roof over their head, that when they’ve got access to health care, they live better, they stay out of hospital. And so it makes economic sense to look after the poorest people in this electorate. There are some pretty straightforward things we can do in the short term, but we also need to be thinking long term because this region is only going to get harder because it’s a beautiful region and everyone wants to live here.’
Dr Luke says the region has been going backwards financially and of the 151federal electorates Page is about the 10th poorest. ‘Grafton and Casino have been going backwards in terms of the poverty index, so we really need to stop doing the same thing and try something different.’
Dr Luke says that when she sets her mind to something she sticks to it. ‘Right now that’s looking out for the needs of this community. I will work so hard and be so dedicated to achieving those ends.’